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Domestic Relations — Parent & Child – UCCJEA – Guardianship – Visitation

Domestic Relations — Parent & Child – UCCJEA – Guardianship – Visitation

In re N.B. (Lawyers Weekly No. 15-07-0303, 21 pp.) (Chris Dillon, J.) Appealed from Mecklenburg County District Court (Louis Trosch, J.) N.C. App.

Holding: Even though a New York court previously ruled that the respondent-mother had neglected her children, since North Carolina has been the children’s home state since March 2010, and since the New York court entered an order relinquishing jurisdiction to the State of North Carolina, our courts have subject matter jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

We affirm the trial court’s order changing the children’s permanent plan to guardianship and appointing their paternal grandparents as their guardians.

The mother objects to the trial court’s findings that it was probable or likely that she would again abuse prescription pain medications; however, Dr. Nicole Cantley opined, “Although relapse is common and symptomatic of drug and alcohol dependency, [respondent] is at greater risk given that she quit for secondary gains (to comply with [Youth and Family Services] recommendations and for reunification).” She also noted respondent’s lack of insight and proclivity “to externalize blame,” both of which were also on display at the review hearing. There was competent evidence to support the trial court’s finding of a likelihood of future substance abuse by respondent.

By enacting G.S. § 7B-905.1 and by not including the language was in former G.S. § 7B-905(c), the General Assembly intended to eliminate any requirement that the trial court include in its order the particular time or place for parental visitations and to only require the trial court to provide a framework for such visitations. Here, the trial court accounted for the minimum frequency and length of visitation (one hour, once per month) and provided for the visitations to be supervised by the family therapist. The trial court left it to respondent to coordinate with the therapist regarding these visits. The trial court’s order meets the minimum requirements for visitation under G.S. § 7B-905.1.



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